Scientists identify form of a molecular messenger -Fas ligand
Washington: Resolving a decade of debate,
scientists claim to have distinguished two cell messengers --
one causing cell suicide, the other inflammation.
An international team, led by Walter and Eliza Hall
Institute, has identified the form of a molecular messenger
called Fas ligand, which is responsible for killing cells
during programmed cell death -- also called apoptosis.
Apoptosis is an important process in human biology
as it removes unwanted and dangerous cells from our bodies,
protecting us against cancer development and diseases where
the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, such as in
lupus or insulin-dependent diabetes.
This cell death process can be activated by proteins
on the surface of cells. The most prominent of these cell
surface proteins is Fas ligand, which exists in two forms --
membrane-bound or secreted -- and binds to a surface receptor
"There has been a lot of debate among the scientific
community over which of the forms causes cell death but also
which of the forms may induce an inflammatory response.
"What we have shown is that it is the membrane-bound
Fas ligand that is essential for cell death and is therefore
the body’s guardian against lymphadenopathy (the swelling of
lymph nodes), autoimmunity and cancer," team leader Professor
Andreas Strasser said.